Saturday began with a light morning shower all over Ponyville, courtesy of the weather team. Grass shone brighter and lush; birds, toads and frogs sang below the light rain. The early waking ponies were already going on about their business. Sweet Apple Acres burst with life as Applejack, along with Winona, went to visit the coop to check on the hens and collect eggs. Her brother, meanwhile, walked around the farm checking for things that might need repairing. Apple Bloom and Granny Smith were in the house, preparing things for breakfast and tidying up. The yellow filly was being specially effective, seeing as how that was the PTA meeting day. She had pretty good grades, but her Crusader activities many times caused her to find herself in Cherilee’s wrong side, and her grandmother would be the one accompanying her. Not that she would be far much better if it was Applejack the one present. And if it was Big Macintosh, well...
Not much time later, roosters began to sing, and the laboring ponies of Ponyville worked on their business. Sugarcube Corner housed three older ponies who organized the shop, setted up ingredients, and looked after two mischievous foals that were all over the house.
Fluttershy trotted in and out of her cottage, carrying different kinds of food for the animal friends that showed up early. Birds of all sizes, squirrels, some stray cats and dogs and even a raccoon, a creature rarely seen in the small town, made up that first batch of friends. She smiled, being surrounded by so many delightful creatures.
“Today is going to be a great day, I know it.”
Other ponies, less prone to being early birds, slept on. Rainbow Dash snored contentedly in her cloud bed, inside of her cloud house. She rolled and moved around frantically, but her dream was not disturbed in anyway.
Lyra Heartstrings was very much the same. Her sheets were tossed around, leaving her uncovered and she flailed her forelegs around and dreamed vividly, but overall slept, pardon the figure of speech, like a dream.
Two rooms further, Bon Bon opened her eyes. She rubbed the sleep away and jumped out of bed, trotting to the window to see the last drop of rain falling from the roofs. The streets were lightly soaked, -nothing that forbad walking outside- and the breeze was cool. She exited her room and washed herself in the bathroom, before going downstairs to begin her day. It was Lyra’s turn for housework, but she still had to work in her shop. Besides, Bon Bon wasn’t a pony with lazy tendencies. She might not be working in a farm, or some of the most common earth pony jobs, but she still was one, and worked hard. Not that Lyra didn’t work hard, but the unicorn musician didn’t let an opportunity to rest slip between her hooves, and sometimes Bon Bon felt like a mother.
She cleaned her counter, counted the sweets that were in it, and thought about what she needed to make for the day. She was picking up ingredients when a knock was heard at the door. She trotted straight to it, and opened it. At the other side was a middle aged brown unicorn stallion with a black mane and grey eyes. His cutie mark could not be seen from that angle, but Bon Bon knew it was a wrench. His name was Straight Lace and he was the Ponyville Elementary’s janitor. A very serious pony, who worked very hard, but he enjoyed every minute of it. He greeted the sweet maker with a bow of his head.
“Good morning, Miss Bon Bon. Are you doing well on this fine morning?” asked the stallion, with his polite, soft, but quite audible and firm voice.
“I’m fine, Straight. Thank you for asking. How about you?”
“Is a pretty good morning, if you ask me. Had been a while since we got some sprinkle early in the morning. “ Straight looked up; the rain had already stopped completely but the air was still cool. He looked forward again. “Well, Miss, I’m here to pick up the puddings for today’s meeting. You have them already, right?”
“Of course.” Bon Bon nodded, and led him to the back room. The unicorn crossed around the counter and followed her. Four big metal trays were covered with clothes, laying over a table. Straight lifted one of them and looked at the desserts, giving his nod of approval.
“Very well, Miss, I shall be taking them.”
“Don’t forget to bring back the trays and tables, please,” asked the earth pony as she stepped aside to give him space.
“Don’t you worry a bit, miss. Have a good day”
“You too, Mr. Straight.”
The four trays floated in front of the unicorn, covered in a black hue, as she looked at him walk away, and disappear around a corner. After he was out of sight, she returned to prepare things. Some minutes later, she heard the hoofsteps upstairs and smiled. Soon Lyra was making her way downstairs groggily. Bon Bon turned to look at the unicorn with a happy smile on her face.
“Good morning, Lyra. Did you sleep well?”
The musician let a big yawn off, attempting with futility to cover it with her hoof. Her golden eyes looked sleepily at her friend. “Yeah, it was a total doozy. Give me some minutes, and the breakfast will be ready, ok?” Lyra walked into the kitchen, as the cream colored pony watched her.
“I want toast with butter!”
Other ponies, such as Twilight Sparkle, required a little more convincing to get out of bed in a weekend, especially if they were not accustomed.
“Twilight, wake up!” called the young dragon for the third time, shaking the purple unicorn. The mare stretched and yawned openly, shaking the covers out.
“Ok, ok, Spike, that’s enough.” She threw herself out of bed, stretching her legs a little, before going over to the bathroom to wash herself. Once she was done, she joined her assistant in the kitchen, where he had prepared fried eggs, hay bacon and apple juice. They ate contently. When finished, she thanked him, went back to her room to grab the saddlebags and descended to the library’s main room. Walking to one of the tables, she packed parchment, ink and quills, along with two books she had specially selected for her introduction to herbal art. Of course, she had read quite a bit, so she expected not to enter the field completely devoid of information.
The sun was just beginning to rise as she took the familiar path to the Forest. Very few ponies were around at that hour. She greeted a couple of familiar ponies and went on her way. Nothing of significance happened until she knocked at the zebra’s door. Her voice answered from the inside.
“Come in, young mare. Step inside with the utmost care.”
Twilight opened the door with her magic and took a look inside. Forming a path, at both sides leading to Zecora’s cauldron, Poison Joke flowers laid in the floor. They were not thrown around, but rather seemed to have been arranged that way.
“Dealing with the Joke is risky, you see. But a very powerful help might it be.”
Walking along the path of flowers, Twilight discovered the zebra standing to her right side. smiling. The unicorn looked at her amusedly..
“Welcome again, dear unicorn. Ready to take the magic outside your horn?”
Twilight smiled to her. “I’m ready at your call, teacher.”
“Well then, please pick them from the floor, leaving the petals down is just poor,” instructed the zebra, while walking over to a shelf containing different jars. Twilight’s jaw dropped instantly.
“But then why did you do that?”
“Because it was a good welcome. Wasn’t it, how do they say, ‘awesome’?”
The unicorn was still taken aback, but did as told, lifting the flowers, washing them with water from a nearby basin, and grounding them in a ceramic plate, as instructed by her mentor. After picking up some jars and putting them next to the powdered poison joke, Zecora continued.
“The Joke into an ally you’ll now mix, and I will teach you the tricks. This can be done with almost anything, you only have to find its ring.” The striped mare then went on to uncork the jars, revealing brightly colored, strongly scented powders in some of them; others were more subdued. Twilight recognized some of them from the description of their smell in some of the books she had read, but others were unknown to her.
“The right combination you have to choose, otherwise you’ll be chasing a wild goose. These powders I’ve collected are already well researched. In the forest, from the trees, you’ll get it out of their leaves. Also, from spices for the food, you can have it very good.”
Twilight watched as the zebra poured content from every jar into the plate, creating a jumble of powders and paste. When she finished with them all, with a small mortar she mixed them all, until obtaining a smooth, reddish paste, that smelled a little sour.
“Go ahead and taste it, you’ll be surprised a little bit.” Twilight looked down at the small bowl and licked the substance. It did not have the acid taste she was expecting from its smell, only a little touch could be discerned in an otherwise somewhat sweet flavor. She recalled the flavor of strawberries through it. Seemingly from far away, Zecora’s voice was carried to her, and she perked up her ears to listen to the zebra.
“The results will be seen tomorrow. Hopefully, it won’t be cause for sorrow.“ Twilight nodded; she would have at least the ingredients for the cure anyway. Zecora called over to her and taught her about what had been used. The unicorn dutifully wrote that down, along with some other combinations that would theoretically help balance the shady plant. She finally parted from the hut, expectant to see what the results of the day’s job would be.
She walked happily out of the forest, and found Fluttershy outside her cottage, surrounded by some small rabbits. She approached the pegasus smiling; the bunnies scampered around.
“Hello, Fluttershy, how are you today?” The yellow pony answered with a sweet smile of her own.
“Good morning, Twilight. Today’s such a wonderful, sunny day. Is almost noon and I’m waiting here outside to give my animal friends their food. Um, would you care for a cup of tea?” offered the shy pony, in a soft voice.
“I’d sure love that.” Both mares then went into the pegasus’ house. Fluttershy filled a jar with water and put it to boil, while putting some leaves in the teapot. She whistled low while working and addressed her friend.
“So, what did you do this morning, Twilight?”
The purple unicorn shifted to face the yellow pegasus, even though Fluttershy had her back to her. “Well, I went to begin my lessons with Zecora. We talked about Poison Joke and how it can be mixed with other herbs and ingredients to mitigate its effects and make them useful or at least, not so bothering. She prepared a mix of it with wild herbs and leaves, and I ate it. We’re going to see tomorrow what the results are like.” Fluttershy spun around, looking at her, her eyes wide, and her mouth open in a gasp. She finally blurted out in the loudest voice she could muster, which at least registered in the unicorn’s ears:
“You ate Poison Joke, Twilight?! I mean, merely stepping on it was quite bad, and you do this? What are you going to do if it goes wrong?”
“Well, Fluttershy, we can always have a bath, can’t we. Besides, I’ve already learnt a thing or two from her. I trust her. Also, the water is boiling.”
Fluttershy spun around back with neck-breaking speed. She put the fire down and finished preparing the tea, serving it in two cups, and carrying it in a tray, along with some apple pie that had been a recent gift from Applejack. She passed one cup and a slice to Twilight and sat across her.
“Do you at least know what will happen?” asked the pegasus with a big streak of worry painting her voice.
“Of course not, Fluttershy. The Joke’s effects are completely random. But if thing go according to plan, it will not be such a hassle.” Despite Twilight saying this, a small part on her person was stll weighing the problem at hoof.
The pegasus sipped from her tea. “Well, I hope you’re right, Twilight...”
“What I’m worried about,” said Twilight as she herself drank from her cup, “it’s about Pinkie and her outburst. I’m not sure where did it all come from, and worse, how it is going to end...”
They both sighed, and drank from their cups. Twilight reached for her slice of cake and munched on a bit; the flavors combined in her mouth, creating a total antithesis to the taste of the poison joke paste. “This cake with your tea is really delicious, though...”
“Thank you, Twilight...” The yellow pony blushed slightly, averting her gaze from the unicorn’s. She lifted it soon after, however.
Both ponies relaxed there. Twilight felt dreamy, letting her conscience drift away between sips. Soon though, Fluttershy rose from her chair. “It’s about time that I went and fed my friends.”
Twilight followed suit. “Since I was treated by you, it’s only natural for me to assist you.” The pegasus mover her head left and right.
“Oh no, I could not impose that on you...”
“Nonsense, Fluttershy. Come on, show me what to do.”
Her friend complied. “Well, thank you, Twilight. I appreciate the help.” Both ponies went outside and set themselves to their tasks as a multitude of small creatures surrounded them. In that moment, Twilight realized she had never spent such a moment with Fluttershy, and noted it in her mind.
A lemony glow surrounded the knife as Lyra peeled some apples and cut them in thin slices. She put the slices in two small plates. From a cupboard, she brought out a bag of oats and a bottle of milk, pouring them on deeper plates. Once she was over, she floated the food to the table. She also summoned a bunch of grapes, putting it down in the middle of the table. She headed out, and with half her body outside her room, she called out to the earth pony whose steps she could feel in the other room.
“Bon, breakfast’s ready!”
“I’m going!” answered her friend. Lyra heard some noise coming from the storeroom, and just as she went back into the kitchen, Bon Bon went from one room to the other. She sat down and looked at what was served in front of her.
“You’ve outdone yourself, Lyra.”
The green unicorn stuck out her tongue. “You know I can be the best.” They both ate in quiet enthusiasm. Bon Bon was feeling much better than she had felt the previous day. The fact that she had an impending competition still weighed down on her, but she didn’t feel as pressured anymore. She even felt something good might come out of all if. She would only have to wait. The earth pony finished eating and took her plates away.
“Thank, Lyra. It was really delicious.”
“You’re welcome, Bon.”
The cream colored mare left the plates in the sink and went out to open her shop. Lyra washed the cutlery and dishes, cleaned the kitchen. Afterwards she moved into the storeroom, dusting and sweeping it. Once she was done there, she trotted upstairs, broom and cleaning cloth floating alongside. Behind her she could hear the voice of her friend making a sale. She did a thorough cleaning of the second floor. By the time she was done, the clock marked ten and half. She rested for fifteen minutes and then descended. She decided to make onion soup with salad. She was not as good a cook as Bon Bon, but it would suffice. Forty minutes later, she finally wrapped it up. Pouring herself a glass of fresh apple juice, she rested for a while. Past noon, she served the soup and the salad. Not bothering to call her friend, she waited until she heard the front door closing and her hoofsteps coming from the hall. Bon Bon walked into the kitchen.
“Good times, Lyra! I’m starving. Let’s get to this.”
The unicorn smiled broadly and the earth pony ate to her heart’s content. Both were in great spirits that day. After eating, Bon Bon remained sitting there, while Lyra went to organize the kitchen.
“Last night, I went to the Library and talked to Twilight. And you know? She showed me one of the most incredible images that I could’ve ever dreamed of. A shining star in the night. It was very beautiful, Bon! I wish you could see it,” the unicorn went on, excitedly.
The earth pony smiled briefly, laughing. “Is that so? Well, you’re going to have and show me, Lyra.”
The unicorn smiled too, although they were not looking face to face. “Sure, Bon.”
Both ponies then went upstairs and took a noon nap. After waking up, Lyra decided to have an hour of practice before going to the Library. She entered her music room, closed the door behind her, and grabbed her lyre, preparing herself. It was the best closer for a very busy first half of day.
“I’m home, Spike!” bellowed Twilight after entering the Library. It was very tidy, only a few books resting upon the tables and everywhere was pretty clean. Spike’s voice called from the dining room.
“Over here, Twilight! Lunch’s ready!”
The unicorn entered the room and found a big plate of pasta with tomato and onion sauce sprinkled over it.
“This smells wonderful, Spike! I’m famished. I did eat a cake at Fluttershy’s, but helping her with her friends is so tiring! I don’t know how she manages it day by day! She’s amazing...” She sat down to enjoy the meal the small dragon had prepared, diving into it. Once she finished, she walked over to where Spike was still seated and embraced him.
“Thanks, Spike, you’re the best.” She then left behind the flustered dragon, giggling. She entered her room, and laid herself down to rest a little. She had woken up pretty early for her standards and decided recharge her batteries a little. She was not sure of just how much time had passed, she figured she had fallen asleep, given how fuzzy her mind was. A cheerful scream woke her up, coming all the way from downstairs, ringing in her ears. She bolted out of bed, as if lightning had zapped her.
“Hey, Twilight, I’m here!”